The Casino in Constanța is an emblematic building for the Romanian seaside, being indispensable in the holiday photos of tourists and in the views reminiscent of the seaside. An imposing building that still exudes the air of its heyday, the Casino has been “watching” the Black Sea coast for over 100 years.
Built (since 1908) in Art Nouveau style under the cosmopolitan influence of the casinos of the time, the Constanta building was completed in 1910 and it was inaugurated in 1912 (when last touches were made). The project of the new Casino was approved by the ruling Liberals, but was challenged by some public opinion and opposition political parties, eventually sparking strong controversy.
On August 8th, 1910, the newspaper “Conservatorul Constanței” wrote: “The citizens of Constanța can now be proud of something too. The new building of the Communal Casino, which we are beginning to believe will never be finished, just like Penelope’s mythological canvas, is finally ready. From the point of view of architectural aesthetics, it leaves much to be desired. The complete asymmetry and the Babylonian mixture of styles, from which the vague impression of a hybrid creation is revealed, make the new communal casino a monument erected in honor of inexperience and bad taste ”.
Despite the criticism, the Casino was inaugurated with great pomp on August 15, 1910 in the presence of Prince Ferdinand. It was the largest building of this kind in Romania, offering roulette, blackjack, baccarat games. Inside, it was a luxurious place, with beautifully decorated walls, sophisticated chandeliers, expensive carpets and furniture of selected essences. Access to this exclusive world was allowed only to people with handshakes and distinguished attire. The luxury of the casino and the mirage of gambling attracted rich people from all over the world. In the halls of the Casino there was intense living, and dramas were often consumed! There were many who, ruined at the game table, ended up throwing themselves into the waves of the sea or ending their days in a hotel room.
On August 20, 1916, when the bombing of Constanța began, the Casino was used by the Red Cross as a field hospital, but it was also the building hit by shrapnel and then 10 people died here. On November 19, 1917, the Casino became operational again. In 1934, the architect Daniel Renard was called in to carry out the repairs.
From 1941, the Casino became the host for German troops who were accommodated in the beautiful building by the sea. Again, the Casino suffered from bombing, but was renovated in 1951 with the help of political prisoners.
Since 1948, the Casino has housed the House of Culture of Trade Unions, and between 1960 and 1989 it belonged to ONT Litoral. The last major repair of the Casino was made between 1986 and 1988. The building is currently under renovation, hoping to soon regain its former glory.
In the spring of 2018, the Casino was among the 12 heritage monuments pre-selected for the program “The most endangered 7 sites in 2018” by a commission of experts from various fields.
The building is currently being rehabilitated.